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Yusuf Pathan and Pragyan Ojha to play for India
by Partab Ramchand
Jun 03, 2008
By Partab Ramchand - DreamCricket Columnist

The national selectors must have been in a bit of a quandary as they sat down to pick the Indian team for the tri series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan. This was the first ODI team they were selecting after India's triumph in the CB series and it is always a tough act to follow such a significant victory.

But they also had to keep in mind that the tri series and the Asia Cup were comparatively smaller events and so it would be proper to give the break to a couple of youngsters. In any case there was no way they could have retained the winning squad for with Sachin Tendulkar being ruled out through injury and with Harbhajan Singh serving out a ban they had to make a couple of changes.

Then there was the matter of the IPL. Should they give recognition to performances in the tournament a topic on which there was considerable debate?

Faced with all this it must be said that the Dilip Vengsarkar-led committee has done a commendable job. While retaining the nucleus of the squad that triumphed 'Down Under' they still have managed to give a couple of berths to deserving young talent and it is significant that the breaks have been given to Yusuf Pathan and Pragyan Ojha both of whom performed splendidly in the IPL.

It is right and proper that those who did well in the IPL should be rewarded. It was after all a high profile tournament conducted on an international level attracting considerable attention all over the cricketing world. Predictably with a host of big names and superstars from virtually every country taking part the standard was high and Pathan and Ojha had to be rewarded for doing so well even in this exalted company.

The 25-year-old Pathan from Baroda is not exactly a newcomer having been a member of the triumphant Indian team at last year's Twenty20 World Cup. He played in only the final but even during his brief innings at the top of the order one could immediately discern that he was an uncommonly gifted big hitter and just the kind of cricketer required for the limited overs format.

That image acquired a whole new dimension in the IPL where his big hitting saw him acquire a strike rate of almost 180 over 16 matches - the highest for anyone who played over six matches - on his way to scoring 435 runs with four half centuries. During the competition it was clear that Pathan was not a mere slogger but a scientific hitter of the ball. The manner in which he launched into his lofted shots, the clean strike off the middle of the bat, the perfect follow through and the way the ball soared high into the sky and into the various stands was something that had fans delirious with joy. He certainly had a major role in Rajasthan Royals winning the title and as a bonus his subtle off spin saw him pick up a few wickets. The man of the match award in the final was the icing on the cake.

On the short tour (to Bangladesh) he is fortunate he will have his younger and more experienced brother with him. Of course Irfan was with him in South Africa too and if the siblings play together it will mark the first time that two brothers will represent India in an ODI since the Amarnath brothers Surinder and Mohinder played in three such games in Pakistan in 1978.

As for Ojha he has been making waves for a couple of years and this is recognition richly deserved. But ultimately one would like to think that it was his splendid bowling in the IPL that saw him gain the berth in the national squad. Playing for a team that finished at the bottom of the table Ojha did not allow the travails of the team to interfere with his skilful left arm spin bowling and with a bag of eleven wickets in 13 matches at an impressive strike rate of 7.67 caught the eye of the connoisseur - and the selectors. He was never in awe of some of the leading batsmen in the world that he came up against and with his spin and guile he was never really mastered even in a format designed for batsmen. The 21-year-old talented player from Hyderabad attracted considerable attention in August last year when he picked up 22 wickets on the India A tour of Kenya, including nine for 85 in a three-day fixture that India won by an innings and 87 runs.

But more than the figures it is his confident attitude that has attracted attention and he certainly looks a long term prospect.

The rest of the team really picked themselves and it clear now that it is curtains for Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly as far as the ODI format is concerned. With the IPL having brought to the fore outstanding young talent the time has come to invest in youth and build a winning team in time for the 2011 World Cup.

 
More Views by Partab Ramchand
  India vs Australia - Batting and bowling worries for the hosts
  Future of Indian cricket is in good hands
  Future bright for Irfan Pathan
  Basil D'Oliveira was a mighty fine utility player
  Ashwin is a stayer, not a sprinter!
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